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Piper L-4 Grasshopper


Light Observation Aircraft


United States | 1941



"The exemplary Piper-produced J-3 Cub series of light observation aircraft - which includes the L-4 Grasshopper - has been flying since the 1940s."



Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 08/24/2018 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
The Piper L-4 Grasshopper evolved from the successful Piper Cub series that took to the air as early as 1930. By 1941, the US Army was in the market for such a light observation and liaison aircraft with rugged reliability, procured four such examples and evaluated the type as the YO-59, later ordering no fewer than 40 more as the O-59. The series saw a dedicated US Army model emerge as the O-59A (soon to be redesignated as the L-4, to which the "L" identified the aircraft series as "liaison"), a type which offered up improvements to many of the components to make the system "battlefield" ready.

At its core, the L-4 Grasshopper was of a high-wing monoplane design, braced at the fuselage, with seating accommodations for two that could include a pilot and passenger/instructor. The lightweight and rugged reliability of the system endeared it to her crews and the Grasshopper went on to provide decades of service in war and peacetime with several nations. Having been designated as the L-4 by 1942, the system was ordered for evaluation as training gliders and accepted by the USAAF (United States Army Air Forces) as the TG-8. The US Navy took on their own versions of this Grasshopper as the NE-1 and the NE-2. An ambulance version of the Grasshopper existed in later forms as the HE-1, though the "H" in the designation was soon reserved for helicopters alone, leaving the HE-1 now as the AE-1.

The L-4 Grasshopper served armed forces well over the years, concluding production in 1981, though the popularity of the system triggered the reopening of the production lines in 1988. These new line Grasshoppers, appearing with modifications and upgrades, failed to light the fires that were burning in the early years however. Some 5,500 aircraft of this series were said to be produced, though some sources put the number as high as 5,700. In any respect, the Grasshopper series proved vital for the US military in the Second World War and the Korean War.

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Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Piper L-4 Grasshopper Light Observation Aircraft.
1 x Continental O-170-3 flat-four piston engine developing 65 horsepower.
Propulsion
85 mph
137 kph | 74 kts
Max Speed
9,301 ft
2,835 m | 2 miles
Service Ceiling
190 miles
306 km | 165 nm
Operational Range
City-to-City Ranges
Operational range when compared to distances between major cities (in KM).
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Structure
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Piper L-4 Grasshopper Light Observation Aircraft.
1
(MANNED)
Crew
22.0 ft
6.71 m
O/A Length
35.2 ft
(10.74 m)
O/A Width
6.7 ft
(2.03 m)
O/A Height
730 lb
(331 kg)
Empty Weight
1,219 lb
(553 kg)
MTOW
Design Balance
The three qualities reflected below are altitude, speed, and range. The more full the box, the more balanced the design.
RANGE
ALT
SPEED
Variants
Notable series variants as part of the Piper L-4 Grasshopper family line.
YO-59 - Artillery Spotting and Liaison variants (Piper Cub Model J-3C-65) procured by the US Army for evaluation; 4 such examples.
O-59 - Official Production Model Designation assigned to 40 examples based on the YO-59 trials.
O-59A - Specialized US Army Variant Designation; fitted with Continental O-170-3 engine; later redesignated to L-4 designation.
L-4 - Redesignated from O-59A designation.
L-4H
TG-8 - USAAF Training Glider; dual controls for pilot and passenger/instructor; redesigned front fuselage; sans powerplant; 250 examples produced in the manner.
XLNP-1 - US Navy Evaluation Designation for the TG-8 training glider; 3 such examples trialled.
NE-1 - US Navy designation of J3C-65 dual-control models; 230 examples.
NE-2 - US Navy models similar to the NE-1 with slight equipment changes; 20 examples.
HE-1 - Piper J-5C Cub models procured for ambulatory service; room for one stretcher; later redesignated to AE-1.
AE-1 - Redesignated HE-1 models.
Operators
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Piper L-4 Grasshopper. Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 5,500 Units

Contractor(s): Piper Aircraft Corporation - USA
National flag of Brazil National flag of South Korea National flag of Thailand National flag of the United Kingdom National flag of the United States

[ Brazil; Paraguay; South Korea; Thailand; United Kingdom; United States ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 100mph
Lo: 50mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (85mph).

Graph Average of 75 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Production Comparison
5500
36183
44000
Entry compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian) total production.
MACH Regime (Sonic)
Sub
Trans
Super
Hyper
HiHyper
ReEntry
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030
Aviation Timeline
EarlyYrs
WWI
Interwar
WWII
ColdWar
Postwar
Modern
Future
1 / 2
Image of the Piper L-4 Grasshopper
Image courtesy of the National Museum of the United States Air Force of Dayton, Ohio, USA.
2 / 2
Image of the Piper L-4 Grasshopper
Image from the Public Domain.

Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
RECONNAISSANCE
Recognition
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Piper L-4 Grasshopper Light Observation Aircraft appears in the following collections:
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